Public-Private Partnerships

The Basic Idea:

Bring business and public (government) or nonprofit resources together to develop and offer workforce training that meets a business’s specific needs and provides workers with good career opportunities.

How it works:

  • Businesses (possibly working with their partners) determine the skills needed for workers to succeed in the jobs the businesses need to fill.
  • Partners develop training programs, or change existing curriculum, for the business’s existing workers and/or new hires, focusing on the skills the business needs its workforce to have.
  • Costs may be assumed by the business, or shared among the partners; often, existing government programs for displaced workers, job seekers or families moving from welfare-to-work help pay the bill for qualifying participants.

Who Does It?

Partnerships often include:

  • Businesses seeking qualified new workers, or seeking to upgrade the skills of its current workforce.
    Educational institutions or other training providers.
  • Nonprofit organizations that offer career guidance and/or services to unemployed or underemployed workers.
  • Government One-Stop Career Centers and displaced worker programs.


  • Partnering with businesses ensures that government or nonprofit investments in worker training pay off – that workers get training and placement in real jobs.
  • Workers are less likely to waste their time doing training that doesn’t match employers’ needs.
  • Employers get workers with exactly the skill set needed to succeed.


  • Requires effort to coordinate.
  • Government and nonprofit partners must learn the language and culture of business to make this work.
  • The simplicity of this Action Idea largely depends on the partners’ attitudes. Personalities and a willingness to make systems and people work together make all the difference here.

Simplicity Index

  • A “networked approach to meeting community needs. Residents and community partners work together to identify educational and training opportunities that will benefit individuals, learning institutions and businesses.

Quilt It

  • Earn It – Job skills training programs may be one way to provide workers with the training they need to qualify for jobs with local businesses.

Examples and Resources

  • Minnesota Job Skills Partnership. This partnership between businesses, colleges, and state government allows rural communities to take advantage of state funds that target industry training through colleges and universities to meet specific workforce skills needs of businesses.
  • The Workforce Alliance (TWA) is a national coalition of community-based organizations, community colleges, business leaders, unions, and local officials advocating for public policies that invest in the skills of U.S. workers. Their website contains resources and information on the development of the skills demanded by the labor market.
RuFES is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group.
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